Michael Pavone is a better writer than director. His script is punchy and quick witted in the vein of Martin Breasts’ 1988 film Midnight Run. Characters are lively, loquacious and logical in their dialogue and actions. There is also a lot more humor than one would expect from a film headlined by a wrestler. Unfortunately Pavone’s shortcomings as a director become glaringly obvious with his botched attempts at out of left field punchlines awkwardly inserted in the middle of intense scenes. A better filmmaker would have found a way for those potentially humorous bits to really score. Here it comes off as amateurish and desperate. Luckily Pavone had the foresight to cast three actors with loads of charisma and truly great chemistry. WWE star John Cena, former child actor Ethan Embrey and newcomer Brad Holbrook make up the lead trio and each man is perfectly cast in the appropriate role.
In the end it’s a near miss for me. I really admired some aspects of the film including the relaxed performances and quirky story in the midst of a traditional western genre story structure. However the flaws are so great that I cannot fully recommend the picture. I think that fans of Cena’s wrestling career and previous films will be disappointed in the lack of full blown action sequences and others aren’t likely to take a chance on a movie starring a guy best known for bodyslams. Admittedly I’m a fan of John Cena, at one point in time I thought he had a chance at really exploding onto the big screen like Johnson or Vin Diesel. Over time it has become increasingly evident that staying under the WWE Studios banner has done him no favors.
Director: Michael Pavone
Stars:John Cena, Ethan Embry, Boyd Holbrook